Japan quakes: Response from PSU Japanese community

A series of earthquakes continue as a 7.0 magnitude mainshock hit southwest Japan Thursday, April 14, and on Saturday of the same week.

According to USA Today, at least 41 were killed and a thousand were injured. Thousands of people were evacuated from their Kumamoto homes.

In Kumamoto, the closing of more than half the schools affected around 150,000 children. Many fear schools may be closed until May 10.

Along with many displaced from their homes and not able to go back to school, trains have gone out of service and cars were derailed on the lines.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will create an additional budget for Japan, and is planning to visit the affected area.

This was the strongest quake to hit Japan since 2011, which was at a 9.0 magnitude.

The Vanguard spoke to Sachie Horie, vice president of the Japanese Student Union, and Japanese international student Nagisa Sasaki, to speak about anyone who was or is affected, their personal experiences and how JSU is taking part in aiding Japan during this crisis.

They are both from Osaka, a city in Kyushu—a region affected by the quake.

VG: How does Japan as a whole respond to catastrophic events like this? For example, rebuilding infrastructure, neighborhoods helping each other out, etc.

Sachie Horie: There are volunteer programs that send people to Kumamoto. One of my friends who lives in Osaka right now went to Kumamoto a few days ago. Her and her [volunteer] group helped serve food and provide stuff necessary to live.

Nagisa Sasaki: I read an article that a woman, originally from Okinawa and living in [the] Kumamoto and Oita area, went back to her hometown with her children and told the American troops there to help Kumamoto people with what they need with water and food. The American armies responded to her request that day. I thought that was a really good and quick response.

VG: Do you know anyone who was affected? What were their experiences?

SH: We have a friend from Kumamoto but her family was OK.

NS: My grandparents are living in Miyazaki. They’re OK, but since they’re old and anxious about the quake, and since it was happening all day, my mother said they can’t sleep.

VG: Have you experienced any other earthquakes in Japan? What did it feel like?

SH: I’ve only experienced small ones [in Japan] but it always makes me anxious. When it happens at midnight or something, I usually can’t sleep. Even if we’ve never experienced big earthquakes, we know how terrible it is because of newspapers and stories. I’m always like, ‘What if there will be bigger ones.’ It makes me worried about bigger earthquakes.

NS: I’m from the same area as [Horie] so I have a similar experience. I was really little when the Hanshin Awaji Daishinsai [Great Hanshin earthquake] happened, and my parents were really affected by that quake. I totally don’t remember, but my mother said I was always crying after the quake. I was seven months old and would watch the kid’s anime shows on TV. After the quake happened, everything was replaced by news. I feel like when these things happen, anime should be there for children to comfort them.

SH: Even during the Tohoku, I remember watching all news on television. We were back home during the Tohoku quake. Osaka didn’t shake as much, but all the trains stopped.

VG: How is the JSU playing a part in helping Japan during this time?

SH: We are actually not allowed to do any fundraising or donations. What we’re trying to do right now is to spread information. At our event last week we handed out flyers that have information about the earthquake. I found out that some people didn’t even know it happened. I think it’s a good way to get more people aware of what’s happening in Japan right now.

VG: As a representative of the JSU, do you have a message towards Japan and the victims of the earthquake?

SH: 私はそんなめっちゃ出来るわけじゃないけど、そして大変だと思うけど、私もPSUで出来る限り情報を広めたりとか、出来る限りのしたいことをしたいと思っています。知らない人も多いけど、心配してくれる人もアメリカにもいてるし、みんなで頑張って、乗り越えて、行けたらいいと思います。

Translation: I can’t really do a whole lot here, and there must be a lot of work that needs to be done. Despite this, I am going to help as much as possible at PSU to spread the news. There may be many people that don’t know what happened, but there are still individuals in America who care and worry. Let’s overcome by working together.

VG: Any final comments?

NS: [Horie] made the flyer for the earthquake and it was handed to many people. There was a girl from Kyushu area and she showed a lot of appreciation. On her Instagram she posted the flyer and said to her followers: “Even in the US, people are worried about you guys, family and friends. I appreciate that and I am very impressed.”

SH: I didn’t know about that! I’m so happy.